Anthony "Tony" Fisher, a Mainland transplant who dedicated his golden years to helping Maui's community, especially senior citizens, has died. He was 77.
"He (was) just an extraordinary leader with a tremendous heart. He doesn't have to know you personally to help you. That's the sign of a truly committed community leader," said Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP's state director.
Fisher was a past president of the AARP chapter in Kihei and was also AARP's state coordinator for its driver's safety program, a signature program for AARP, Stanton said.
Dedicated to Maui community
"He's just so deeply loved. It's such a loss," Stanton added.
Stanton, as well as politicians and friends, will speak at Fisher's celebration of life at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Keolahou Hawaiian Church in Kihei. Fisher's obituary was published on Page A4 on Sunday.
"I wept when he died. He was a wonderful man," said William "Bill" Tavares, who together with Fisher led COMET, or the Committee for More Equitable Taxation, which seeks to protect longtime property owners from higher tax bills caused by skyrocketing property values.
Tavares remains chairman of the group. Fisher was co-chairman.
Tavares said he met Fisher several years ago. He called him after seeing a letter Fisher wrote to The Maui News, which was what Tavares called a "well-written discussion of property taxes."
Tavares then asked Fisher to join the COMET group.
"The rest is history," Tavares said, adding he was also impressed with Fisher's intelligence and knowledge of property taxes, world affairs, history and science among other topics.
"This guy was brilliant," he said.
Tavares choked up when interviewed about his deceased friend, whom he called a brother.
"He was so honest and open," he said.
Tavares added that Fisher was always "calming" no matter how heated situations got regarding taxation issues or other things he was fighting for.
Fisher was also a member of various groups, including the county's Council of Aging and Hawaii Farmer's Union. He also was District 11 Republican chairman.
He ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for South Maui's 11th House District seat, losing to Democrat Joe Bertram III in 2006. During the election campaign, he became known as "Tony the Tiger."
Fisher was born on May 2, 1933, in Washington, D.C., and attended Northeastern University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration. He spent 45 years in sales and marketing in the computer industry and also taught data processing at the community college level.
He also was an Army first lieutenant in the Signal Corps and had eight years of active and reserve service.
Fisher and his wife, Nancy Lee, moved to Maui in 2001. They were already both retired and lived in Corona del Mar, a neighborhood in Newport Beach, Calif., until they got tired of overcrowding there.
They decided to move to Maui, the couple's favorite Hawaiian Island.
Nancy Fisher said it wasn't a surprise that her husband jumped in to help with community activities as soon as they arrived.
"What was he going to do? Play golf every day?" she asked.
"He got into one thing, into another," she added. "He was having the time of his life."
Nancy Fisher said her husband was in good health but succumbed to a stroke. He died July 14 at the Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Nancy Fisher said what she'll remember most about her husband is "what a loving, sweet, kind, husband" he was.
"He always treated me like a beautiful young girl, even though I wasn't anymore," she said, holding back tears.
She said her husband also loved their little dog "Archie Boots," a Pekingese-and-poodle mix.
Tony Fisher wanted to call the dog "Boots" because of its white paws, but she said she liked the name Archie, so they put both names together.
Tony Fisher's other, softer side could be seen when he was the Santa Claus at the Grand Wailea Hotel Resort & Spa Children's Christmas party.
Nancy Fisher said she still has a photo of her sitting on her husband's lap when he played Santa.
"He had such a good time with the kids," she said.
Fisher is also survived by his son, Douglas Fisher, and four grandchildren.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.